Unlike the spring Festival of New Leaves, Diwali, an autumn festival, has little traditional religious significance or ritual. This is not ambiguity, but essentially a practice honoring Laxmi. In the growing darkness, in our doubt, in times of danger, or in need, we might not even perform rituals we are accustomed to. In the cold of the night, when every hour seems longer than it actually is because of our misery, we might forget how close the dawn actually is, how close our friends are. Yet, when deprived of the sun, we can ignite a flame, and we may utilize our experience to anticipate what might otherwise be unbelievable. When we lack food, we remember friendship and share a meal.
It is a profound act of faith to prepare for the spring at the moment when summer fails - yet now is the time to plow and plant the spring crops. For shopkeepers, fall is the time to plan for the spring's inventory. A student learns not to accomplish the present test, but to lay a foundation for knowledge they cannot yet comprehend - or even imagine. Now is the time to trust in Justice, and other things we cannot comprehend or imagine.
Whether we draw such inspiration from stories of Rama or the stories of the Mahabharata, or any of the other lilas Vishnu played in separating from Laxmi, that we might perceive Laxmi better - or from our own experience with Laxmi, our own stories, our own very practical practices of Artha Yoga, it matters little. When Dharma is separated from Artha, we understand the value of Kama.
When things end, we can understand their beginning. It is important this autumn, is important this Diwali to recognize that an ending is the natural consequence of beginning. And beginnings are the natural consequence of ending. Now is the time to trust to our own resourcefulness.
When we understand that the strength which sustains us derived both from experience and from teachers, the strength of our own understanding can light the way for those who would otherwise stumble in the night. We may light the roads for travelers that we do not know, for things to come that we cannot comprehend or imagine.
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